Charges: 80-year-old man poisoned Seattle neighbor's cats for ripping screen door

SEATTLE -- An 80-year-old man is accused of killing his neighbor's two cats with poison after they ripped up his screen door.

Choung Rhee is charged with two counts of first degree animal cruelty in King County Superior Court.

According to charging documents:

In May of 2017, the owner of the cats contacted King County Animal Control and said his White Center neighbor poisoned his two cats. Animal control officers went to the home of the victim in the 2900 block of SW 97th Court in Seattle and spoke with the owner of the cats.

The owner said he came home from work in May and went to let in his cats - Helmet and Muning -  like he normally did. Only Helmet returned, and when he was leaving for the store, the owner heard Muning crying.

The owner went to look for Muning and found him lying against a shared fence line. The cat was completely limp, and the owner took him to the vet. Muning was euthanized after he didn't respond to treatment.

The owner came home to find his second cat acting lethargic. He took Helmet to the vet, where it also died.

The veterinarian talked about both cats showing acute renal failure, due possibly to toxins like rat bait.

Later in the evening, the owner went to dig a grave for his two cats when he noticed a can of food on Mr. Rhee's porch. The owner thought it weird because Mr. Rhee didn't have any pets.

The owner stated that he saw Mr. Rhee and shouted "you poisoned my cats." In response, Rhee allegedly yelled, "They tore up my screen door."

Animal control contacted Mr. Rhee who denied killing the cats. However, both cats were exhumed from their graves and determined they were likely poisoned.

Mr. Rhee has no criminal history and is currently out of jail as the case proceeds.